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Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War
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Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  256 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
"Choice" Outstanding Academic Title 2003

Black Garden is the definitive study of how Armenia and Azerbaijan, two southern Soviet republics, got sucked into a conflict that helped bring them to independence, bringing to an end the Soviet Union, and plaguing a region of great strategic importance. It cuts between a careful reconstruction of the history of Nagorny Karabakh con
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 25th 2004 by New York University Press (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30)
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Aug 04, 2013 Sasha rated it really liked it
After reading this and bits on the short-lived Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, I believe more than ever that we are united by a single "cultural space." That although the land was never a geographically delimited area, it is first and foremost the sum total of three homogenous cultures. Being nationalists, our leaders reject this. I wish they'd read and remember Evgeni Gegechkori's (head of the TDFR) words used to explain the uniting of the Transcaucasian people: "Alone we are a ...more
Nov 09, 2011 Shaig rated it did not like it
I don't understand how 'balanced and objective' this book can be if it mostly presents Armenian civilians' viewpoints and never mention about more than 600 civil Azerbaijanis being tortured/killed in Khojaly in February 26th 1992 by Armenians.
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]This is a really good book. Even if you don't have a professional interest in the Nagorno-Karabakh question (and let's face it, not a lot of people do), I think the studies of how a historical dispute over a very small patch of land destroyed two countries and helped to destroy the Soviet Union are of worldwide, human interest. The narrative of the conflict is interspersed with either interviews with today's survivors or historical reflection ...more
Jul 27, 2013 Nare rated it liked it
The strength of the book lies in its assessment of how the conflict in Nagorno-Kharabagh has affected the social and political environment of the Caucasus. The problem lies in that this assessment is not fairly balanced to both sides of the question. In the prologue, De Waal states repeatedly that he is taking an unbiased, third-party approach to his assessment. Yet, I found a clear imbalance in the focus of most chapters, leaning towards the Azeri perspective. In describing the situation of ...more
Dec 10, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it
This is great book that depicts the conflict in Nagorny-Karabakh. I'm not an expert but from what I can tell, the author is fairly objective. The author goes over the history of the region from 1988 to the present years of frozen conflict.

I would recommend this book, although not as an introduction to Karabakh. It is a tad lengthy, and filled with anecdotes -- some personal and some not. The anecdotes add a personal touch and some context to the storyline but they also add weight to the book.

Sep 11, 2007 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Thomas de Waal is a respected journalist who has written about the conflict in Chechnya as well as covered this conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. He attempts to write a balanced account of the ingredients that led to this conflict, one that is still unresolved, and under a tenuous cease-fire that's held since 1994 (with some isolated shooting across the cease-fire line from both sides).
Travis Taylor
Oct 21, 2012 Travis Taylor rated it it was amazing

An excellent, seemingly well rounded coverage of a brutal war. I'm sure there are parts of this book that offend both sides, but it is the insight into the pride and frailty of the human psyche that led to the causes and escalation and non-resolution of this conflict that means that neither side can claim victory or righteousness.
Michael Dean
Aug 25, 2014 Michael Dean rated it really liked it
Superbly researched. Fairly positions both sides of the conflict. The updated versions offers well thought-out conclusions.
Aug 07, 2011 Andrea added it
Interesting to read a bit about the "other side". Having lived in Azerbaijan, I have only heard their side of the war.
Rune Norheim
Aug 09, 2013 Rune Norheim rated it it was amazing
Very good book. Provokes both sides. Read it after visiting Stepanakert .
Oct 15, 2016 Dan rated it it was amazing
This was a solid journalistic work on the Nagorno Karabakh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It did a good job of examining the factors that led to the conflict, specifically the breakdown in the paper-thin "Soviet Identity" that led to countless incidents of intercommunal violence following the breakup of the USSR. Prior to the war, Armenians and Azeris worked together, lived together in villages and intermarried, but that all went out the window fairly quickly once nationalist fervor was ...more
Brendan Monroe
Nov 06, 2014 Brendan Monroe rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, war, history
While it doesn't come close to being one of the more exciting books I've read, 'Black Garden' is certainly informative if you're looking to gain a little insight into what went into creating a conflict that you probably haven't heard about. I picked up de Waal's book because I'm spending some time in Baku and as a result wanted a bit of insight into something that you hear about on an almost continual basis from the local population. "The occupation of OUR land" is bound to have a different spin ...more
Aug 20, 2016 Cara rated it really liked it
3 1/2 stars to be precise. I found De Waal's narrative as confused as the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict. It's not nearly linear and creates a sense of frustration for the reader (perhaps that's the intention). It's difficult not to be frustrated with all sides in the conflict (a conflict that mirrors other territorial disputes and has been repeated throughout history...has nobody learned anything?). It's also about 15 years out of date now. Still, has anything really changed? Armenia and ...more
Javid Najafov
Aug 04, 2015 Javid Najafov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book about the conflict.

1) Nobody should give even a slight credit to international terrorists such as Monte Melkonian. This is similar to give a credit to any terrorist from Al-Kaida or whatever.
2) There is no such thing as 'superior fighting skills of Karabakhi Armenians' - they will not any need for feadins or melkonians then, forget about post-Soviet Russian forces.
3) It is unhealthy to compare, maybe politicial tough person, as Azerbaijani President with some 'bandit' from Kara
Sep 29, 2014 Reuben rated it it was amazing
The glowing praise this book has received from worthy critics is well-earned, and I cannot recommend a better introduction to the dispute over Nagorno Karabakh. This is an acute and balanced view of the region, its politics, and the small-minded xenophobia that continues to drive the dispute. With this effort, de Waal has written the authoritative overview of the conflict and the region's political climate.

Highly recommended.

P.S. Disregard the hyperbole and complaints of bias. Zealots on either
Paulo Jan
Oct 23, 2015 Paulo Jan rated it it was amazing
“I had been following the Thomas de Waal's work for a long time, since I read his book Caucasus an introduction. However, as the book BLACK GARDEN had been written in 2003 did not buy it. When the uptated edition of 10 years was released , I Decided to read.
I found out surprising details about the Karabakh War. The narrative is perfect, interspersed with interviews, descriptions of the capitals Baku and Yerevan. There is an excellent apendix of statistics and a complete time -line.
The auctor ac
Russ Moore
Oct 17, 2015 Russ Moore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For someone like me who knows next to nothing about the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict, this is a very informative read. de Waal is meticulous in many first-person details, and serves up the issues in a balanced manner. This is probably one of the more complex conflicts in the world today, and de Waal explores many possible reasons and factors from ancient rivalries to modern economic pressures. There were a few areas I would have liked to see him explore in more detail: the Armenian Republic's ...more
Suzanne Auckerman
Jun 03, 2016 Suzanne Auckerman rated it it was amazing
Excellent book if you want to slog through the history of the conflict in the Caucasus and the psychology of ethnic conflict. It is a border zone between Iran, Turkey, and Russia, all with competing interests and it will erupt again and probably in the near future as tensions continue to rise. There has never been a peace treaty, only a ceasefire line on which about 30 - 40 people are killed each year. It is very similar to the Balkans, which I think will also erupt again. I got interested in ...more
Sevada Abraamyan
Nov 27, 2014 Sevada Abraamyan rated it really liked it
It was mostly unbiased and a good read. However, he seemed to be unnaturally attempting to stay unbiased in some areas of the book by diluting certain important events with examples from the opposing sides which were really minor events/historical facts in comparison. Overall I felt a small bias toward the Azeri side via the emotional card he played with the Azeri refugees. Of course, I'm Armenian so maybe I'm biased myself and others will have a different opinion regarding this matter. It was a ...more
Jan 04, 2008 Lee rated it liked it
This is a must read for anyone interested in Armenia and/or the Caucus countries. DeWaal is a British journalist whose goal was to as accurately as possible report on the events leading up to and including the Nagorno-Karabagh war. He provides a detailed and well documented account dispelling myths and reporting accurate statistics. Recently, it was translated into Armenian hopefully expanding the number of readers.
Jul 13, 2010 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: partially-read
Another book recommended when I moved to Azerbaijan. I read a bit when I first moved here, but I got too busy with work. This is a good account from more perspectives than the ONE that I've constantly heard by everyone here. I won't say more on that, but I really need to go back to this and hear more of the other side of the story again.
The most comprehensive work on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Though de Waal is not an academic, he is a recognised authority on the Caucasus, and his book is by far the most important, and neutral, publication on the conflict. It has become nearly impossible to find anyone who doesn't cite this book when writing about the conflict.
Oct 02, 2014 Christopher rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Probably the definitive English language study on this topic. I found it largely balanced, sympathetic to ordinary people, and unsympathetic to their governments. Thoroughly worth your time if this is a topic which at all interests you.
Mar 17, 2011 Rustin rated it really liked it
Well written book. Better than Azerbaijan Diary. The book covers the Karabagh conflict well. Would have been 5 stars with the addition of a time-line. It is hard to follow events.

This book should be read by anyone interested in Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Karabagh regional conflict.
Debbie (Eugene)
Mar 29, 2008 Debbie (Eugene) is currently reading it
This tells the 'true' story of the Azerbaijan/Armenian conflict. I'm reading it for obvious reasons.
Nargiz Huseynova - Alizade
Jul 31, 2013 Nargiz Huseynova - Alizade rated it did not like it
How can anyone call it a well-rounded book? Not a lot of viewpoints of the Azeri civilians presented. very disappointed, I expected so much more from this book
Mar 01, 2007 Armen rated it liked it
Recommends it for: its a great book about the nagorny garabagh
i enjoyed alot reading this book,although some parts i felt the author was desperately trying to be balanced and neutral. but overall its very good book on south caucasus.
Alessandro Fracassetti
Alessandro Fracassetti rated it it was amazing
May 13, 2016
Ludwig V
Ludwig V rated it really liked it
Jul 26, 2012
Mary rated it it was amazing
May 06, 2013
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